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The troubles with Miami's running game decisions

I didn't like the Dolphins offensive play-calling in the fourth quarter on Sunday. As I wrote in my column today offensive coordinator Mike Sherman, with approval from coach Joe Philbin, abandoned the running game that had been working quite nicely for three quarters.

Sherman abandoned it when Miami was leading in the game. He did so to the tune of some eye-popping statistics for run-pass ratio. And then there was something that was not in the column that the Dolphins did that made it all the more puzzling:

Not only did Sherman go away from the running game which was working well and is the team's strength but when he did run the football I believe the Dolphins were giving it to the wrong guy.

I told you nearly a month ago how disappointed I've been with Daniel Thomas. Well, so far this season Thomas is the third-best of Miami's primary ballcarriers. The trouble with that is Miami has three primary ballcarriers -- Reggie Bush, Thomas and Lamar Miller.

And yesterday, after Reggie Bush went down with a minor knee injury, Thomas was summoned to take his place. And Thomas promptly fumbled. The fumble, by the way, is troubling because it's the second for Thomas in the regular season.

Two fumbles isn't a lot but when you've only played two games as Thomas has, the one-fumble-per-game average is not good.

Anyway, the fumble caused coaches to turn to Miller. And Miller was good. He was averaging 5.3 yards a carry during the game, including a 22-yard gain.

But then in the fourth quarter, for reasons coach Joe Philbin explained as normal substitution patterns to share the work as well as groupings substitutions, Thomas was back in the game. And Miller wasn't heard from again.

"That," Miller said with a shrug afterward, "is the coach's decision. I can't do anything about that."

True. But it's puzzling why it happened in light of the fact Thomas finished the game averaging 3.6 yards per carry, the lowest average of any of Miami's three ballcarriers.

Look, I get that Miller is a rookie and when you want to throw the ball, you go with the slighly more experienced Thomas as the pass protector. But otherwise, it seems pretty self evident that Miller is the better back.

He gets more production out of every carry on average and he does't fumble while Thomas obviously has.

What am I missing? Oh yeah, nothing. Miller is going to be better than Thomas in the future and, truth is, every statistic shows he's there now.

Obviously, the Miami coaching staff has a different opinion. They leaned more on Thomas on Sunday. Doesn't mean they are correct.

Comments

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DD, I understand Tannehill was brought here to make "those" plays. And he has great arm-strength, and Hartline had a step, BUT....

- look again, and Hartline, while behind the defender, only got separation after the ball was in the air, and in each play was close to the out-of-bounds. With Tannehill not wanting to make a mistake, I think he doubts his ability to put it in a position where his receiver can make a play, therefore overthrows those passes.

I just don't think Tannehill is mentally ready to trust himself or his receivers to make that particular play.

Hartline isn't that tall. It would be an easier play if we had a tall receiver there to go up and get that ball, rather than a fast receiver who might not be able to out jump a defender.

In the end, the reason I'm not as angered as some of you are on those missed throws, is because at the end, Tannehill gets his team in FG range, and gives them a chance to seal the deal. I personally won't ask my rookie QB, in his third start, for anything more.

bust = bust.

"Two fumbles isn't a lot but when you've only played two games as Thomas has, the one-fumble-per-game average is not good."

Mando,

All of your points are valid today. This was a very winnable game for us & there were a LOT of question marks in the second half offensively from play calling to execution.

Defensively Sean Smith & Nolan Carroll are not good. Yes Marshall had a couple of penalties on Santonio but overall he played well. This defense has not sacked the QB enough. Wake has zero sacks this season & if you don't sack the opposing QB in the NFL you have a great chance to lose. We didn't make stops on 3rd down & we allowed a bad NFL QB & a bad offense to beat us.

On Special Teams Carpenter had a bad day but he's been good for awhile. I thought we let up too much yardage on punts to Kerley.

Kris, yeah, play calling, strategizing could use some tweaking. Even still, I like the direction. I like an aggressive philosophy. I like trying to seal the deal at the end. I just think you need to know your personnel better, and hopefully time fixes that.

These to me are all growing pains.

I TOTALLY AGREE WITH DC AND KRIS TODAY.

DC,

VEry good post @11:26am. You're asking a guy like Hartline to make some of these plays that guys like Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and D. Thomas in Denver would be asked to make. He's not the right guy to be making those catches. The Dolphins deemed Marshall not to be worth it as a number one receiver. We can't expect guys that don't have the skillset to just become those guys. If he gets hsi number one reciever in the draft all will be forgiven re:the Marshall trade.

I saw no lack of execution in our not covering Holmes yesterday. Either our DBs can't cover him or the D scheme against Santonio was poor. He really hurt us.

Guys, check the scores on the other games. 30 points in the Balt/Pats game, 40 points in the Lions/Titans game, 30 points in the Cincy/Skins game. Looks like secondary sucks all over the league.

We have problems when you see us in a vacuum. When you see us vs. other teams in the NFL, many teams are going through the same issues.

I thought even this early in the Season, it would show that we are FAR from where we want to be. After 3 games, I see us much closer than further away. Hope it continues, we'll see, but after 3 games, I'm probably more impressed with where we are, not less impressed.

Craig M, truth hurts huh, bud?

Stop being an overly sensitive, egotistical baby.

Then you wouldn't be criticized for your homerdumb.

It's not just me, there are a few here who ride you for the exact same thing.

Lesson learned or so we hope.

fitz next week. hooooohoooohoooo.
12 for 348.
lol

"In the end, the reason I'm not as angered as some of you are on those missed throws, is because at the end, Tannehill gets his team in FG range, and gives them a chance to seal the deal. I personally won't ask my rookie QB, in his third start, for anything more."

DC,

I couldn't agree more. To put that loss on Tannehill &/or to question a rookie QB in his 3rd start is pathetic. But then again we have some pretty pathetic excuses for fans. What are you people expecting??? This is a LEARNING year for Tannehill. Nothing more. You want to complain...Complain about that drop from Anthony Armstrong who is now our 3rd best WR. Now that was PATHETIC.

Did he throw a INT for a TD to Landry??? Yes but that didn't lose us the game. He put us in FG range twice & Carpenter missed two FG's that he normally makes.

DC@11:32am,

I had that exact conversation with We Have RBs last week. He doesn't feel that Smith should start in this league and I made the point that every team in this league has issues at cornerback. Teams are getting lit up every Sunday. It's very much a passing league now. Tenn puts 44 points on the Lions with that defence and Locker at QB. HUH? How the Hell does that happen? It's just what the NFL is about today. Part of it is all the good QBs in the league and part of it is the rules that realy favour the WR now.

Completely agree with Craig.....posted last night.....this loss is on Carpenter and the Secondary. Third fault would be fourth quarter play calling.

Clemons and Marshall and Wilson looked foolish. Smith was burned several times but Sanchez wicks and couldn't make him pay for blown coverage.

We need a top flight WR with pick one next draft but picks 2-2-3-3 better be CBs and Ss.

DC...

To me...this is the 2ND time Philbin and Sherman have hurt Tanne (FINS) with this "aggressive" play-calling...

If we sit tight....we are still in the Houston game till the end...and then who knows what happens...

I am WAY MORE interested in WINS than I am in Tanne development...WINNING BREEDS CONFIDENCE...

Losing under any circumstance can ONLY demoralize it...

Let's coach to WIN games...not give Tanne different oppertunities to screw it up...

long finally didn't give ^ a sax.
martin seems to be settling in and jj too.
martin officially hates the jets.
lol.
jets falling like flies all over on d and still lost. wtf?

Homers,

Blah! blah! blah! blah!

I know you're addressing me but I have no clue what you're saying because I'm not reading. I hope you get carpal tunnel from your nagging words on the page...MORON!

Craig M,

not to mention replacement refs who see phantom pass int.
everywhere !!

j phil said he doesn't get involved with th dc and oc during games.
maybe he should start.

We Have RB's@11:36am,

Excellent point on Armstrong. I don't know what this guy can do for our deep game but it was clear yesterday he shouldn't be counted upon. Not sure if it's lack of practice time or concentration but he's got to make those catches.

Great Job Philbin! I feel this team from a coaching perspective is pointing in the right direction. No coach is perfect. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward. If the Dolphins fire coaches everytime they make a questionable decision they would go through 17 coaches a year. Go Dolphins!!!

I thought even this early in the Season, it would show that we are FAR from where we want to be. After 3 games, I see us much closer than further away. Hope it continues, we'll see, but after 3 games, I'm probably more impressed with where we are, not less impressed.

DC,

OMG....I'm definitely impressed from where we were in the pre-season. I thought we were going to get blown out yesterday. We completely dominated them in the first half & we handed them that win. Bush got dinged up & Carpenter had a bad day. What are you going to do??? You move on & hope Tannehill gets better each game--which he has.

CoyoteGuy,

Refs were bad yesterday, particularly on Marshall. Can't wait until these guys are gone!

y r any of youz surprised that armstrong f'n sux, same as naane.
they're ire pix.
lol

Kris, do you know if Sherman called plays when he was in Green Bay? Because remember that conversation we had on the blog offseason saying Philbin never called plays in Green Bay? And some thought that might pose a problem (or that our offense wouldn't look like Green Bay's (eventually) because we didn't have an experienced play-caller?

I wonder if that's the case. And I hate to say this (because I love the pass game), but we're one of the best running teams in the league right now. I'm completely in awe at our ability to gain yards on the ground. This is what Sparano was trying to do for 4 years. Until we get better personnel for an air attack, I think Philbin needs to ride this advantage we have on the ground. Our oline run-blocking is almost "man vs. boys." That might need to be our focus this year so we can "breed confidence" as you say by winning.

We Have RB's,

I had the Jets winning 24-13 yesterday. The Dolphins played much better than I thought they would. They gave the game away. They were the better team on the day. They will learn from this, as you've said.

f'n odicks ghey sax dance, but remember who his dc was at psu.

I had that exact conversation with We Have RBs last week. He doesn't feel that Smith should start in this league and I made the point that every team in this league has issues at cornerback. Teams are getting lit up every Sunday. It's very much a passing league now. Tenn puts 44 points on the Lions with that defence and Locker at QB. HUH? How the Hell does that happen? It's just what the NFL is about today. Part of it is all the good QBs in the league and part of it is the rules that realy favour the WR now.

Craig,

I'm standing by that on Smith & the same goes for Carroll. Hill & Schillens were both left wide open by Smith when they dropped TD's. Not even close!!! I thought Marshall played with a lot of heart & toughness on Holmes. Yes he was penalized twice BUT that's the nature of playing CB on a good WR.

Smith will not get re-signed no matter who the GM is.

The Jets don't really throw well on anybody & haven't since Sanchez arrived. He threw for over 300 yesterday. RED FLAG RAISED

This isn't about what's going on around the league & how it's a passing league. It has been for years already.

Every team does NOT have CB trouble. Tell that to the Texans & Niners. Excellent secondaries! Steelers are pretty darned good also. There are others as well.

It's about the phins & their talent or better put, lack of talent issues.

DC...

I'm with you...I can't believe I am calling for the RUN GAME...but I am...and like you said...we look POWERFUL in the ground game...almost 49er like...or UGH..jet like from a few years back...

I just want to win...

and that was one of the ones we (the coaches) let slip away....

Next week maybe we shock the world....

I remember when the UM coach told us we were getting a 1st round pick coming out a year early in Miller. I look at Tannehill as being a true #1 or #2 draft pick coming out a year early as well. If they pan out to be that way I'll take a year of this crap for us to have a decade of prosperity. Next year we get our WR and maybe a DE or CB (CB please!) and then in 2014 we get an MLB and sure up out OL. We aren't too far away from prosperity!....I hope

Excellent point on Armstrong. I don't know what this guy can do for our deep game but it was clear yesterday he shouldn't be counted upon. Not sure if it's lack of practice time or concentration but he's got to make those catches.

Craig,

I hope it's a lack of practice time & a lack of reps BUT he dropped a pass that EVERY WR in the NFL has to make. You hate to kill a guy for one play but that REALLY sucked. You can probably kill Thomas for that fumble as well but I thought the kid played hard.

RBs, hard to stick with a guy when the QB has all day in the pocket. Didn't see too many pressures on Sanchez yesterday. Giants DBs aren't that great, but they don't get exposed because they have great pass rushers. We really need a compliment to Wake. I'd work on getting one quality CB before we get rid of Smith (IMHO).

I never thought that would happen. Everybody and their sisters here knows that NOBODY can run against Miami, least of all the Jets. That right there made it a one-dimensional Game. Still, they completed a bunch of killer passes on Us. Who can understand that? Fuc- that shi-.

Wasn't that the Niners getting whooped by Christian Ponder? Thought so.

But your point is well taken Reality, we need better personnel in the secondary, you won't get any disagreement out of me on that.

It is water under the bridge now, But Thomas's knees were down for a full second befroe that ball came out.

Terrible call. He still should of held on to it, but it came out well after he was down.

got 4 hrs of football at least.
lol

Poizen, how the h*ll did you see that when replayed clearly showed there were so many bodies in the way you really never saw when the ball came out. If anything Thomas was laying on top of someone when the ball came out.

Fasano had control of the ball when his lower body landed OUT OF BOUNDS -- end of play. Then ball is moving as his upper body hits, but play is over at that point.

And has everyone forget that Armstrong holds on to the excellent pass he might STILL be running?

"I remember when the UM coach told us we were getting a 1st round pick coming out a year early in Miller. I look at Tannehill as being a true #1 or #2 draft pick coming out a year early as well. If they pan out to be that way I'll take a year of this crap for us to have a decade of prosperity. Next year we get our WR and maybe a DE or CB (CB please!) and then in 2014 we get an MLB and sure up out OL. We aren't too far away from prosperity!....I hope"

MiamiD20,

Between Tannehill, Martin, & Miller that can really be three 1st round picks.

At CB--Smith & Carroll have to go like ASAP.

Need another pass rusher. Wake has zero sacks this year & I see him playing like a beast out there. I've seen him doubled & he was so close to killing Sanchez yesterday.

I thought the O-line played extremely well yesterday. We were killing them on the ground before Reggie got hurt & most importantly we kept Tannehill clean.

This team is LIGHT YEARS ahead of where we were at this point last year so something is working.

Anyone else impressed with our oline? Jonathan Martin even got feisty on a play (yeah, he was flagged, but liked the spunk). Jerry's been pretty consistent. Tannehill isn't running for his life every play. This was supposed to be trouble this year. We're not even MENTIONING them as problematic.

Let's here it for the oline!!!

You don't freeze any pro kicker on a 35 yard field goal. They make those in their sleep. You do freeze them on a 45 FG though.

8 yards and that FG is probably made. Instead Tanny is throwing deep for a TD... don't like that at all.

Lots of Homers here today. Good. Good.

Craig, you didn't read it? Yet, posted to tell me you didn't? LMAO

You're too vain to NOT read what is said to you. Good or bad!

Vanity is a sin!

BOYCOTT THE FINS UNTIL IRELAND IS FIRED! WE'RE SICK AND TIRED OF THE LOSING! HELP MAKE A CHANGE!

DC, Ponder pounded the Niners? He of only 198 pass yards? He of only 5.5 yds per attempt? Thought so.

RBs, hard to stick with a guy when the QB has all day in the pocket. Didn't see too many pressures on Sanchez yesterday. Giants DBs aren't that great, but they don't get exposed because they have great pass rushers. We really need a compliment to Wake. I'd work on getting one quality CB before we get rid of Smith (IMHO).

DC,

I said going into this game that the key is to get pressure on Sanchez. If we did it then we would win & if we didn't we would lose. Well we didn't. Wake was VERY close but Sanchez completed a bunch of 3rd downs that killed the defense.

I totally agree with you which is why I'm defending Marshall who I thought played his a## off against Holmes. An actually INT from a CB??? I couldn't believe it!!! Smith is a JAG & Carroll is even worse than that. Re-signing Smith just doesn't make any sense to me. Need another starter to go with Marshall & need a nickel CB.

Ah it must be nice for Matt Ryan to have 4 pro bowlers on offense at the skill positions.

We have RBs, this team just needs TIME and EXPERIENCE and they "should" be fine. Even Philbin (but not Sherman) needs some experience and time before he fully gets it as HC (Sherman has been an HC and OC on this level before he gets no free pass). If Tannehill, Martin, and Miller continue to develope we'll be fine in those areas.

DC, our OLine has not been (too much) of a problem this season. By week 10 Martin should be fine as well as Jerry, he's so huge you can't move em' lol. This shows that problems can be fixed in 1 season. Our RB situation went from worst to our tram strength with Bush's addition last year. RT went from turnstile Columbo to most likely being fixed in 1 year. We went from WR trouble, to fixed with Marshall, back to our biggest hole in a 3 season span. If we can fix that in the offseason we should be fine if our young guys continue developing fine.

It all comes down to QB play

clue, arty blank. happiest owner out there because fatcells didn't go there. j long would be a falcon.
lol

DC, Ponder pounded the Niners? He of only 198 pass yards? He of only 5.5 yds per attempt? Thought so.

Posted by: Reality Check | September 24, 2012 at 12:07 PM

He threw for 2 TDs, ran for another. That's 21 points. What did they score, 27? Who CARES how many pass yards, he PERSONALLY accounted for THREE scores. Sounds like he got the best of the defense to me.

"Anyone else impressed with our oline? Jonathan Martin even got feisty on a play (yeah, he was flagged, but liked the spunk). Jerry's been pretty consistent. Tannehill isn't running for his life every play. This was supposed to be trouble this year. We're not even MENTIONING them as problematic."

Let's here it for the oline!!!

DC,

Something Tony Field Goals couldn't fix in 4 years btw. The Jets are going nowhere with Sanchez & that offense which makes me happy. If we had some sacks in the 4th quarter than we make Sanchez look like the bust he is.

Guys,

I JUST want to be clear what some of you are saying. You're suggesting we need to replace Smith AND Clemmons for next year and I know you want a WR, a TE and a rushing LB. If Bush doesn't resign, then I think we need another running back from somewhere too. I'm not a big Smith fan by any means, but I'm telling you CBs are getting lit up all over the field. He's not actually as bas as some of you are indicating. He becomes a better CB with a better pass rush and better help at safety. Trust me.

Yeah, I hate that Sparano gets to feel good today. Like he got revenge. All content with himself. His offense is horrendous. He has NO run game. Wildcat is tamed. Tebow is a joke as anything but a decoy. That's a team going nowhere fast. The longer Sparano stays there, the worse they get.


This team is LIGHT YEARS ahead of where we were at this point last year so something is working.

Posted by: We Have RB's | September 24, 2012 at 11:52 AM


.
Gotta disagree. I think the team is far worse then last years team when Moore was starting. No WR's, still no QB, and no playmakers. And not sold on Philbin either. Think you may be changing your tune after a few more games.

Ah it must be nice for Matt Ryan to have 4 pro bowlers on offense at the skill positions.

Clue,

You're damned right about that. Remember he started with Roddy White & Turner. The Falcons GM has really done a nice job with their drafts & FA. Now bringing in Nolan has worked wonders so far for their defense.

MiamiD and Craig things just look so happy on your side of the fence. When will you stop being such optimistic homers and realize this team for what they really are. They are a garbage team that needs more than your pom poms to become a meaningful team again LOL

Fitzsgerald will have a field day with SS next week, Arizona defense is stacked, Peterson, Calias Campbell, Quiten Groves, Adrian Wilson, I see no way we win next week. 1 and 4 it is.

By the way, I'm not hearing too many John Jerry is a BUST comments lately. Where did those guys go? In fact, we're not hearing Jerry's name at all right now. Maybe, just maybe, the light has gone on for this guy. Maybe, just maybe, being embarassed on Hard Knocks was good for this guy.

give ss some deep help. the safties r never where they're supposed to be.
look, j wilson is still looking for moss.
lol

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